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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

X-amining X-Force & Cable '95

"Fun, Fun, Fun!" / "The Gamut"

In a Nutshell
Cable & X-Force help the Impossible Man motivate his kids

Writer: Jeph Loeb, Todd Dezago (2nd Story)
Pencilers: Matt Ryan & Ruric Tyler
Inkers: Mark Pennington, Andrew Pepoy, & Ian Akin
Art: Daerick Gross (2nd Story)
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Matt Webb, James Houston (2nd Story)
Color Enhancement: Malibu Hues
Editors: Lisa Patrick & Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras
Special thanks to Mark Waid: Ambassador to Poppup

X-Force & Cannonball are vacationing on a South Sea island when they're interrupted by the Impossible Man, who wants their help disciplining his three kids. Cable refuses, but as the Impossible Man proves more and more of a nuisance on their vacation, he eventually relents, only to learn that the Impossible Man's three kids are teenaged slackers. However, when the sea monster known as the Kalinator attacks the island and swallows X-Force, Cable is able to motivate them into action, driving off the beast and rescuing X-Force. With his kids newly inspired to become superheroes, Impossible Man thanks Cable and finally departs.

2nd Story
In a back alley, Domino is attacked by a series of robots, including one built in the image of her friend Grizzly, whom she recently had to kill. She defeats them all easily, then addresses the man who sent them: Arcade, who renews their contract for the next year, vowing he won't be satisfied until he wins, and she dies.

Firsts and Other Notables
The final 1995 annual (Excalibur, X-Factor and X-Man don't get one, and Cable has to share this one), this is also the third "Impossible Man" annual, in which the impish alien pops up and bedevils one of the X-teams (following after X-Men Annual #7 and New Mutants Annual #3).

Arcade appears in the second story, as part of an annual "try to kill Domino" arrangement the pair apparently have (something which is never mentioned before or after this, as far as I can recall); he appears with his "scarred & half-bald" look which debuted in the Wolverine/Gambit miniseries.

The issue concludes with four pinups, including a preliminary sketch version of the cover to X-Force #1.

The Chronology Corner
This issue takes place between issues #48 and #49 of the main series (and before Sabretooth: Red Zone). Cable appears here between issues #28 and #29 of his solo series.

A Work in Progress
After a series of X-Men baseball games and one basketball game, this issue gives us X-Force playing volleyball.

One of the robots Arcade sends after Domino is a Domino robot, prompting a rare reference to the extended period of time in which Domino was replaced by Copycat.

Young Love
Cannonball & Boomer use the time away to rekindle their relationship.

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
The logo on this one is a pretty hideous bit of 90s era CGI.

The Impossible kids are all stereotypical 90s slackers.

As kids of the 90s, they have an affinity for both Saved by the Bell...

and Melrose Place.

Austin's Analysis
All of the various X-Men/Impossible Man annuals are patently ridiculous, and one's enjoyment of them large hinges on the level of one's tolerance for whimsy in superhero sci-fi punch-em-ups (and I generally have a low tolerance for such whimsy). But this particular one, while no less ridiculous than the previous two, gains a little something just by dropping X-Force - who were once the avatars of serious grim-and-grittiness, at least amongst the X-books if not Marvel at large - into an Impossible Man adventure. Doing this story with the X-Men or Excalibur or X-Factor at this time, it would be just as fluffy and narratively-inconsequential and trying to be funny but not really succeeding as the previous two such annuals, but it would also be lacking that little something extra present here, the amusement in seeing characters drenched in the 90s like Cable, Domino, and Shatterstar get caught up in whacky antics, forced to deal with a being whom they can't intimidate with big guns, gritted teeth and a bad attitude. And the art, while not of the caliber of Alan Davis' (who drew the last Impossible Man/X team-up annual) is appropriate for the kind of Looney Tunes/Saturday morning cartoon energy of the story. I wouldn't hold this up as a secret classic or anything, and maybe it's just the state of the world right now talking, but for as much as I was dreading going back to this one, I ended up kind of enjoying it.

Next Issue
Next week: Bloodscream returns in X-Men Unlimited #9!

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